I have attached an article that gives “six examples of effective Wesleyan evangelism”. One of the six is right next door. I was so pleased to see Alva Mitchell’s picture and the amazing story of Vale United Methodist Church!
I won’t repeat details that are in the article. I just want to offer a few that aren’t. For many years Vale was a strong church that easily supported a full-time pastor (including Thom Larson who later served this church). Then came the gradual decline that has afflicted so many churches. I was their district superintendent when Alva Mitchell approached me. His church had not been in a position to offer a full-time salary for some time. He shared with me his conviction that with a full-time salary and the right leader Vale United Methodist Church could make a come-back. They had assembled a vision team (as I recall, they called it a “dream team”) that was meeting regularly to pray and dream about what God might do in their church.
They sensed that God was calling them to do something bold. Though their offerings could not come close to supporting a full-time pastor, they told me that if I would find them the right leader, they would spend down their savings to make the salary full-time. Many of you know the “right leader” I found. Jennifer Mercer. She was “lay associate” at this church at the time. I’m sure I wasn’t very popular in taking her away from you. Jennifer did some wonderful work at Vale and she is the one who “turned the corner” for them.
Circumstances prevented Jennifer from staying at Vale as long as we would have liked. That lead to Andrew Williams who is referenced in the article. Jennifer and Andrew both were answers to prayer. Andrew though is the one whose leadership resulted in the United Methodist Church on the national level standing up and taking notice.
Also, Alva. All church leaders aren’t clergy. What an example of the difference a lay person who cares about his church can make!
Doug Renfrow and I will be at Annual Conference in Salem this week. Steve Hatch is preaching here Sunday, 9 and 11 am. You don’t want to miss him.